Hill to Hall May 13–17

May 16: Governor Brown signs $1 billion tax package for school funding

In the wake of Oregon public school protesting and Republican walkouts in Salem, Gov. Kate Brown has signed a new $1 billion tax package to fund public schools in the state. Associated Press reported the funding must be used to lower class sizes and increase student performance, as Oregon has some of the largest class sizes and lowest graduation rates in the country. The funding will come from less than 10% of businesses in the state. The tax package could still be sent to voters for approval under the state’s referendum process.

May 16: Bill to legalize marijuana consumption lounges dies in committee

Senate Bill 639—a bill that would legalize legal cannabis lounges in Oregon—has been proclaimed dead according to the group behind the bill, the New Revenue Coalition. Oregon would not have been the first to legalize cannabis spaces, as The Las Vegas City Council has already approved them this month. Those in favor advocate that the lounges would create revenue and jobs to the state. The lounges would be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and businesses would have to obtain a license and follow certain guidelines, similar to a liquor store.

May 17: Oregon files lawsuit against prescription drug company

Attorney General of Oregon Ellen Rosenblum has filed a new suit targeting Purdue Pharma and the production of the prescription painkiller OxyContin. The Oregonian previously reported Rosenblum filed a suit in 2018 regarding misleading senior citizens when the company knew the drug was addictive and dangerous. The most recent lawsuit alleges members of the company illegally moved up to $8 million into personal bank accounts and continued to “illegally market [the drug].” Oregon is the first state to sue Purdue Pharma.

May 17: Oregon lawmakers approve expansion of federal free lunch program

The new expansion of the federal free lunch program in Oregon will allow students living up to three times above the poverty line to access free meals. The expansion is funded by a recent tax package which was signed on May 16 by Gov. Brown. According to The Washington Post, the expansion would allow more than 60% of public schools in Oregon to provide free breakfasts and lunches to 345,000 students previously ineligible for the federal free lunch program due to their schools not opting for federal assistance on account of low reimbursement rates.